Joshua Wilder Clockmaker working in the town of Hingham, Massachusetts. Featuring a rocking ship dial. UU100

This is an excellent example of a rocking ship tall clock made by Joshua Wilder of Hingham, Massachusetts.

This federal case features excellent proportions, richly grained mahogany and an older surface. This case is typically proportioned for this form and Wilder’s South Shore working location. This example stands on applied French feet. These are nicely splayed and form a fancy center drop apron in the lower section of the base. The base section is cross banded with a broad mahogany framing. The center panel is slightly inset and trimmed with a simple molding. The waist is narrow and centers a rectangular door is trimmed with applied molding or a cockbeaded edge. This waist door features an outstanding crotch veneer. The sides of the case are fitted with finely reeded quarter columns. These terminate in turned wooden quarter capitals. The hood or bonnet is fitted with a traditional New England style fret work pattern that is light and lacy. Three reeded finial plinths support the frets and three brass ball and spiked finials. Fully turned and nicely shaped bonnet columns flank the door. The bonnet or hood door is veneered in figured mahogany. This door is fitted with glass in order to protect the painted iron dial.

This iron dial was painted by the ornamental artist Spencer Nolen in Boston. It is signed by the Clockmaker in script, “Joshua Wilder.” The place location of “HINGHAM” is painted in block lettering. The time track features a closed minute ring and the hours are marked with large Roman hour numerals. The quarter hours are indicated in an Arabic format. A single gold band frames the perimeter of the time ring. Nicely shaped steel hands indicate the time. Each of the four spandrels areas are decorated with colorful conch shells. The automated feature of a rocking ship is located in the arch of this dial. The painted ship is depicted flying two large American flags. This ship actually moves or rocks gently from side to side with the motion of the pendulum. The painted scene behind the sailing ship includes a large meetinghouse which is built out on a peninsula to the right. This nautical theme is painted on a convex piece of metal which adds to the visual depth to the scene. This is nicely executed.

The movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. This is a time and strike design that is designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is key wound and is powered by weights. The strike train operates a rack and snail design that was the common set up for New England clocks of this period. The brass faced pendulum bob is supported by a steel rod that hangs from the back of the movement.

This clock stands approximately 94 inches tall to the top of the center finial and was made circa 1815.


About Joshua Wilder of Hingham, Massachusetts

Joshua Wilder was born on December 2nd, 1786 in Hingham, Massachusetts. He was trained in the art of clockmaking by John Bailey Jr. of Hanover, MA. Wilder completed this apprenticeship some time around 1807. It appears he stayed in Hanover for a brief period of time before moving back to Hingham to established his home and business located on Main Street in the South Parish. Here, he was the first clockmaker to settle in this prosperous town and found a ready market for tall case clocks, dwarf clocks, wall timepieces, the Massachusetts shelf form and mirror clocks. Wider becomes one of America’s most prolific Makers of the dwarf clock form.

Wilder also becomes very active in the local religious Society of Friends and became known as the “Old Quaker Joshua Wilder.” He was also involved with the Temperance Society and Peace Society of Hingham. Wilder’s business eventually evolves into a retailer of common goods. Wilder is said to have trained several Clockmakers that includes his son Ezra Wilder, Reuben Tower, Allen Kelley and Phillip Bennet. About 1840, it is said that his son Eza joined him in business. Joshua dies on October 4, 1860 in the town of Scituate.

A fair number of clocks made by this maker have been found. Many of which are the dwarf form but also include in much smaller numbers tall case clocks, timepieces, shelf clocks and mirror clocks. Currently, the Hingham Library is displaying a tall case clock made by him.


For more information about this clock click  here .